Drew Henson is 41 now but still holds several Michigan High School Athletic Association baseball records from his four years at Brighton, where he was a three-sport standout.
This doesn’t surprise him.
Henson was Baseball America High School Player of the Year, USA Today Player of the Year and Gatorade National Player of the Year as a senior and was drafted in the third round of the 1998 MLB Draft by the New York Yankees. He will be inducted in the Michigan Baseball Hall of Fame at Jackson Field in Lansing on Friday along with the late Bob Miller, the former major-league pitcher and longtime Detroit Mercy baseball coach. Henson will throw out the first pitch before the Lansing Lugnuts games.
“I hate to say I assume some of them are still there,” Henson said, laughing, of his high school records. “Everything went right for me to put those up. I was healthy, but Coach (Mark) Carrow, he wasn’t cool with playing a 20-game baseball season. He wanted to play as many games as the state scheduling would allow. Even though we’re in Michigan and got a later start, we were playing 33 regular-season games and a lot of doubleheaders. It was a program that had been winning, and I just got to step into and have that four-year run.”
The Hensons returned to Michigan when Drew was a freshman in 1995 when his father, Dan, became an assistant football coach at Eastern Michigan. Brighton’s baseball tryouts were the week they moved there and a week later in his first game, he homered the first pitch he saw.
“Brighton was the best fit and could not have been better for me and our family,” said Henson, who also played football and basketball. “You’re playing with your friends., you’re playing with the guys in your neighborhood and your school, and to have the four-year run I had with being the young guy on team with the older players that accepted me walking in as a freshman and were just fantastic to me, too, and then coming up and being the team leader and having other guys I played with for three years, made some state title runs and had national rankings and won 30 games a year — it was just an unbelievable experience for all of us to have those runs together.”
Among the records he still holds, according to the MHSAA from his career (1995-1998): home runs (70), doubles (68), runs scored (250), and grand slams (10). His .527 career batting average ranks eighth.
Henson would go on to play quarterback at Michigan, but left before his senior year after signing a six-year, $17 million deal with the Yankees. He also played nine games over two seasons in the NFL, with the Cowboys (2004) and Lions (2008).
His parents, Carol and Dan, sister Brittany, who played volleyball at Ferris State, and extended family will attend the induction. Henson, who lives in Tampa, Florida, will be joined by his wife, Madeline, and their 8-year-old daughter, Perry.
“It’s special to me, because it is like the culmination of all the sacrifices my parents made for my sister and I as we were growing up,” Henson said of the Hall of Fame induction. “They were both full-time teachers and coaches and had paid their own way through their master’s programs, but at the same time sacrificed every minute and extra dollar for my sister and I to have the opportunities to experience everything and then choose what we loved and then be able to pursue that.”